Did I tell you about my spa break?
Well, close your eyes a moment and imagine heaven. OK, you can open your eyes now. I said, YOU CAN OPEN YOUR EYES NOW!
It was interesting to find that I felt quite different once I had left the Island and deposited the Smudgelets with a very brave and generous Ferijen who was going to entertain them for the day before delivering them to my sister. Almost immediately it felt as though I had lost weight, as though I was sitting a little higher in my seat, as though the sky was just that tiny bit brighter. Not that I don’t love them, and Dad too, I hasten to add, and not that I didn’t miss all three of them like crazy, and still not that I begrudge or even don’t relish the responsibility of caring for them all. But to suddenly find myself footloose and fancy free, so to speak, was a marvellous feeling and I sang all the way to Leicestershire. But even this was no preparation for the flood of lightness that I experienced on arrival.
I have to say that from the moment I walked along the wooden walkway, over trickling pools and fountains, through the door of the spa resort it was as though I had been plucked from one life into one of total contrast. Everything was pristine (see what I mean? total contrast!) and perfect and I was pampered from the moment I walked through the automatic door and someone seized my suitcase and said “Let me take care of that”! I checked in and then went on the guided tour of the facilities before abandoning the clothing of the outside world, donning the snuggly warm towelling robe over my swimming costume and the silky soft slippers I had bought for the occasion, and just melting into the whole experience. There was one moment when it seemed a little surreal and I had visions of myself being brainwashed and subsumed into this cult where everyone wears white robes and lounges around until called one by one to the “massage room” for extermination…. but then I realised that even if that were the case, it was a rather pleasant way to go! 😀
The pool was beautiful, crystal clear and so warm that it was like stepping into a bath, though cool enough to make swimming a pleasure. And between swims I could luxuriate in the whirlpool, the sauna, the steam room or the sun loungers by the side of the pool. It was just like that fantastic childhood memory of the feeling of stepping out of the bath into a huge towel that had been warmed by the fire and snuggled up in there by a loving mummy, that cosy pampered safe feeling. And to go from there to the lounge and simply laze in a giant leather sofa – one sofa per person – one that reached out and welcomed you in and lulled you into a totally relaxed state, half reading, half snoozing, half dreaming.
My room was simply amazing. Huge and beautifully decorated and furnished. It was an absolute dream – took my breath away for a moment as I walked in and the porter gave me a guided tour! There was a huge window with a balcony overlooking a natural-effect lake with hundreds of water birds, and looking out over undulating fields. The bed was so immense that I almost felt lost in it and it occured to me that I could sleep a snoring Tiddles and a wriggling Smudgelet in there either side of me and not even be aware they were there. In fact, if I had smuggled in all those “little ones” who were looking for a place in my suitcase, there’d have been plenty of room!
I was determined to make the most of the facilities and classes. I used the gym. Five minutes worth must have had some impact on my general level of fitness, surely? As must the five minute bike ride I completed in the grounds before deciding it was far too windy and far too much like hard work. But I did do two complete water classes. One was the aquafit that everyone was moaning about being scheduled before breakfast. I smiled slyly to myself. To tumble out of bed, slip on my cossy and make my way to the pool at 7am was real luxury for me, after months of getting up before 6 and getting straight into the fray! The aquafit was good, but the aquajog was brilliant. That was later in the day, a new experience, wearing strange belts around the waist that kept you afloat but upright in the water. In this suspended-animation, you were to jog through the water, feet not actually touching the ground so more like cycling in a way. Each length of the pool was done in a different manner, each one ever so slightly harder work than the last (amazing that it could get any harder than the first method we used!), and we wore webbed mitts on our hands too, to increase the water resistance. Boy, was it hard work! I think the worst was when she got us to jog across the pool holding a float upright in front of us! Or was it when she got us to tow a partner across the pool, with them just holding on to the back of our belts. It was a good workout for all of our muscles, especially the ones you use when you laugh!
The meals were amazing. If they were laid out for me like that, with such a selection of foods so lovingly and painstakingly prepared, I swear I would eat far far more healthily. I think the best was the breakfast – a massive array of cereals, fresh fruit, “real” yogurts, breads, freshly squeezed juices, all of which you could feast on to your heart’s content. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day anyway, the meal which I enjoy thoroughly and could not do without, and this was my idea of heaven. I may have eaten healthily but I must have gained some weight! Then the evening meal of caesar salad followed by seabass in lemon sauce followed by apple strudel was amazing (apart from the fish bone incident which I could hardly believe was happening)… in fact, it was so well prepared that I even found myself eating and enjoying spinach. Spinach! I ask you!
And what about the massage? Well, apart from feeling a little silly, lying there for the facial with cotton wool pads on my eyes and mud on my face, and apart from a slight allergic reaction to the eye stuff which made me look like a red-eyed panda for a little while, it was absolute bliss. The therapist commented how knotted my neck and shoulders were – I’d have been surprised if they weren’t! But I’ll tell you something, by the end of the massage they were so loose that they could well have fallen off and I wouldn’t have noticed. Her opinion was that I should have a neck and shoulder massage at least once a month to stave off future back problems caused by stress. I said that it would be rather nice to treat myself to a monthly pampering and she tutted. It’s not pampering, it’s not a treat, it’s not a luxury – view it as a prescription and a necessity for the good of your health, find yourself a good therapist and invest in your future health. Yes ma’am. 😀
Looking back, it seems all like a bit of a dream.